Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Indian Telecom Security Policy Required

Of late foreign telecom companies are demanding a level playing field in India. They are of the opinion that Indian telecom policies, especially telecom security policy of India, are not conductive for free trade and healthy competition.

In the past import restrictions have been placed on foreign hardware and software vendors. Hardware vendors like Huawei and ZTE faced the security concerns of Indian intelligence agencies. After much delay and restrictions, they were finally allowed to export their hardware to India with stringent penalty provisions.

The department of telecommunication (DoT) has proposed Rs 1000-crore as the upper limit for imposing penalty upon mobile phone companies in case any spyware or malware is found in imported networks equipment or in the event of a security breach. The lower limit for the penalty will be Rs 50 crore. Further a Telecom Security Council of India has also been proposed by the DoT that would look into security related aspects of hardware and network equipments.

On the software front, India has decided to abandon a controversial rule that made it mandatory for foreign equipment manufacturers to put their software in the equivalent of a sealed envelope and submit it to the government. However, vendors like Ericcson, Nokia Siemens, Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent did not find this acceptable and they decided to stay away from the burgeoning $100 billion Indian market.

However, Telecom Security and Encryption Policy of India is still not formulated and this is causing lots of trouble for Companies like Google/Gmail. Skype, Research in Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry, etc informs Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India. The National Security concerns of India must be “Reconciled” with Civil Liberties and Commercial Interests of these Companies, suggests Dalal.

DoT is in the process of formulating the new telecom policy of India 2011 and it would be appropriate if these issues are redressed by the same.